Saturday, March 14

Poetry Cafe

I know April is Poetry Month, so I thought you might be interested in hearing about how our Poetry Cafe went in February. You might remember my iWOW show-and-share in January. If not, you can click here to read about this interesting new (annual) inservice day that our Super has begun. 

part of our table top decorations (left)     --     my Poetry Cafe bulletin board announcement (right)

Our school has held an annual Poetry Cafe for as long as I've been in this school district, so I don't know how the tradition began. It's always been held around Read Across America week, though. My second grade team took on the project this year. We decided to change the format and make it an even bigger event than before.

the classroom sign-up sheet I created (left)     --     the invitation I created for the Central Office staff and Board of Education (right)

In the weeks before the Poetry Cafe, we taught our second graders poetry and figurative language vocabulary. (If you're a second grade teacher, you know about that lovely RL.2.4 standard.) We read several poems each day to illustrate this new vocabulary. We even wrote poetry together and independently.

Each of the students chose a poem to share at the Poetry Cafe. We practiced reading our poems to our 5th grade friends. They recorded us on their iPads so we could watch and listen for ways to improve the way we read our poems.  

My team and I wanted the room set up like a cafe. (This is a big change from other years.) We had desks for tables and draped a dark, plastic tablecloth over each one. We set 2-3 chairs around each table, and we put our tabletop centerpieces on top. (The glow on the tabletops comes from a little battery-operated tea light.) We placed some lamps around the room for the lighting. We had a coffee scent in the warmer. We even borrowed a PA system from a family at my church. 

Finally, the day came. It was SO neat to see our vision come to life. We had lots of positive feedback from teachers and parents.  

We asked our SLP teachers to be judges and choose 2 kids from each class to go to a local, downtown cafe to share their poems. Those kids got to leave school for about an hour to spend time at the cafe on Read Across America day. They loved it, and so did the cafe. What a great way to involve our community!

If you have an opportunity to hold a Poetry Cafe at your school, I definitely recommend it. You can make it as simple or complex as is appropriate for your school and your kids.

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